Monday, November 17, 2008

Charlie Chaplin and the Shredder

Well, bloggers everywhere are capturing the exciting moments. A majority of my "Exciting" moments were classified, and also, unless I miss my mark, in the past ever since I was taken out of the deploying battalion I was initially placed in. I'm still not sure what makes someone strongly opposed to the Iraq occupation a potential liability for the Afghanistan War, but hey. I'm also pretty sure it's not the smartest move they ever made. "We're going to punish you, by not letting you be in a high-rotation deploying unit." Man, if only the rest of the Army knew or thought that way, people would be lining up in droves to do anti-Iraq-war organizing.

At any rate, I am in the unit I am in, and it's probably better in some ways. Definitely lower stress than being downrange. But there's also a higher sense of the ridiculous. As, for example, the shredder incident today.

I don't know about the rest of the Army, but the Military Intelligence Corps loves its destruction of classified and unclassified material. It didn't always used to be so high-tech, of course- I remember days gone by where we got to put it all in a metal garbage can and toss a match. Those were good days, as were the ones when we got to use sledgehammers to break anything what needed breaking. But these days, it's usually the shredders of doom.

I won't describe them in too much detail, lest the enemy read this post and design comprehensive anti-shredder technology. But suffice it to say, we were by the ultimate daddy of shredders. It was one of those shredders that if your mother had seen, she would have shrieked at you for not getting a finger caught. That thing was the ultimate doom of unwanted paper. Which was good, because we had about two dumpsters full of material to shred as we pack up our battalion. How did I get tagged for this detail, you ask? Well, somebody had to supervise, and I've never been a big believer in leading from the rear. Yes, exciting Army times indeed, but someone has to do it.

I'm sure I'm forfeiting any potential hearing disability compensation by admitting this, but I'm one of those soldiers who almost never wears hearing protection. This has led to some interesting times when ill-timed explosions have tried to make me regret that decision in the past, but after having met a fellow soldier who set off a cannon (yes, really) by his left ear and survived intact, I have always been one of the folks to tough it out.

After five minutes of that behemoth of a machine, however, I took the damn hearing protection.

This wound up having the delightful result of turning our entire time in the shred room into a Charlie Chaplin-esque silent picture. Wild gestures and body language were used for all communication, along with expressive shrugs, winks, and grandiose gestures. I half expected someone to start shuffling and soft-shoeing during an imminent break. It was incredibly destressing. Anyone's having a lot going on, I recommend that they try out the shred room.

Dealing with these massive shred piles, it's always a little interesting. Like an archaeological expedition. What are you going to find? Everything from fingerprint cards to letters of reprimand for fraternization made it in. Fortunately we didn't have a lot of time to be curious, as it all went down faster than original veteran paperwork at the VA.

There you guys go. I'm sure you'll be begging for the political posts back any day now.

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